The Guerrilla and the Journalist (Paperback)
Exploring the Murderous Legacy of Jonas Savimbi
Share this book
A profound moral challenge now faced me following this macabre encounter with Savimbi in the African forest. How was this former English council house boy going to save his friend from this guerrilla chieftain who had learned the arts of war from Mao, Che, Clausewitz, the CIA and the South African Defence Force?
As a young Reuters correspondent, Fred Bridgland revealed the secret invasion in 1975 of post-independence Angola by apartheid South Africa's armed forces in support of UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. At the time he befriended Tito Chingunji, a guerrilla officer before he became UNITA foreign secretary, who persuaded Bridgland to walk many hundreds of kilometres across Angola to watch UNITA's fighters go into combat.
Later Chingunji and Bridgland worked together on a sympathetic biography of the charismatic Savimbi, then the great hope of the 'free West'. However, after the book's publication, Chingunji told Bridgland how he and his family were under constant threat of death from Savimbi.
Bridgland started to uncover atrocities that reveald Savimbi not as the champion of his people, but as a murderous tyrant. Chingunji had risked his life to help Bridgland tell the true story of what was going on behind the scenes. When his friend went missing, Bridgland journeyed into the Angolan jungle to plead his friend's case and was himself put before a kangaroo court by an enraged Savimbi.
This is account of the bond that developed between a guerrilla fighter and a journalist and the terrifying challenges they faced as they revealed Savimbi's true face.
FRED BRIDGLAND is a veteran British foreign correspondent and author. He reported on the Angolan civil war and the Border War for Reuters as the agency's Central Africa correspondent in the 1970s and then from South Africa for the Sunday Telegraph and The Scotsman in the 1980s and 1990s.
Bridgland has written several books, including Cuito Cuanavale (2017) and Truth, Lies and Alibis:
A Winnie Mandela Story (2018).